Palm Springs, 2020.
Directed by Max Barbakow.
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes and Tyler Hoechlin.
When carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg) and reluctant maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milioti) have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
There are those who argue about Groundhog Day endlessly. A comedy perpetuated by multiple digressions which hinges on an absence of accountability for its leading man. In this mainstream cult classic Bill Murray puts in an underrated performance that ironically never ages, whilst battling an improbable reality forever on loop. So it is with Palm Springs which lifts the same premise lock, stock and barrel whilst adding a rom-com element.
Writer Andy Siara has boldly attempted to reinvent the wheel by robbing Ramis blind and having two people play out Groundhog Day 2.0. A trick which requires both charismatic actors, an inordinate amount of visual invention and some killer support. By putting Andy Samberg front and centre Andy Siara at least gives himself a fighting chance, but the problem with Palm Springs is the reliance on Samberg to work miracles.
Although his everyman credentials are beyond reproach Samberg’s Nyles never feels rounded enough. Unfortunately making comparisons between himself and Murray is unavoidable and simply put Samberg lacks the minerals. Flashes of invention and a good chemistry with Milioti go some way to making things work, but their meet cute moment gets lost amongst the absurdity. J.K. Simmons and Peter Gallagher are criminally underused, while everyone else is reduced to stereotypes or window dressing.
Only the central relationship between Nyles and Sarah feels vaguely fleshed out and even then some reveals never hit home. Their dialogue is sharp enough and both Milioti and Samberg commit themselves to dragging comedy into the light, but Palm Springs falls short of its comparison piece repeatedly. Cheating girlfriends, ludicrous wedding guests and even J.K. Simmons coked out of his mind is not enough to salvage things.
When it starts getting into time travelling goats, chunks of C4 and quantum physics via Skype you sense the writer was reaching. Clichéd revelations, awkward after dinner speeches and abstract dance moves were all done better decades ago in Four Weddings and a Funeral which represents another problem here. Between Groundhog Day and the Richard Curtis staple Andy Siara is fighting a losing battle. Produced in part by Samberg and his Lonely Island cohorts Palm Springs might showcase his undeniable talent, but never comes close to offering a solution to the Brooklyn Nine-Nine quandary.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★